Revive your Heart by Nouman Ali Khan – Book Review

When I mentioned to some friends that I had bought this book they asked me if it was any good? Well, I bought it because I subscribed to Bayyinah two years ago and Alhumdulillah, it absolutely transformed my relationship with the Quran, giving it a new lease of life. For those of you who haven’t stumbled across Bayyinah Institute, it’s an extensive online Arabic and Quranic studies learning resource, Nouman Ali Khan is the founder and CEO and its run by a dedicated team in US. So, for me it was a no brainer that I would buy this book! I had been looking for a ‘good’ Islamic book to dive into for a while and was tickled pink when my copy arrived.

Over the course of the book, the author shares a series of thought-provoking reminders, each one is grounded in an ayah of Quran. He naturally uses a lot of Arabic terminology, as he is explaining the essence of the words. Don’t be intimidated by this, persevere with the Arabic. Inshallah you can understand it, there’s no such thing as ‘insta-knowledge’ you just need to use your brain muscle! Having said that, the style of the book is conversational and what the author does really well is make the ayahs easy to relate to. For instance, in chapter 3 he reflects on Surat al Asr to explore how we view criticism, focussing on the different dimensions of the phrase tawasi bi-l-haqq “What that means in simple English is, when you give somebody counsel be honest in your counsel, be sincere in your counsel, no strings attached.”

Some of us like to listen to things, some like to read. I need to do both and take notes as well for the message to really sink in. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a good idea to read this book cover to cover in a night; the knowledge you gain will only be shallow, and no one wants to be shallow! So be mindful when you’re reading, remove distractions so you can concentrate – tea and biscuits aren’t distractions so they can stay.

If I were a librarian, I would put this book on the ‘self-development’ shelf. Each chapter is a mirror that forces you to reflect on the ideas you hold, warts and all. Speaking of warts, Chapter 4 and 8 tackle two downright ugly ideas that exist in the Muslim community: misogyny and racism. “Muslims were supposed to be the example of: how you don’t stereotype; you don’t make fun of other people; how you don’t make assumptions.”

“I don’t do that” is what you feel like saying, however in the privacy of your home, whilst turning the pages, be prepared to be challenged by some unvarnished truths. There’s no point in getting offended. If what he says makes you feel uncomfortable, it means he’s touched a raw nerve. Nouman Ali Khan dissects both corrupt concepts, bringing a probing intelligence not only to what we believe about girls and other cultures, and why it’s wrong, but also illustrates the correct way of thinking. “If you don’t change the way people think, if you don’t change the way you and I think, then things are going to get worse.” I particularly like this piece of advice “Be your best to your daughters, show them your kindness, and show them your love. Instil confidence in them, believe in them.”

Let’s be honest, no one likes to be judged so we have to judge ourselves by halal and haram. We can’t make excuses and justify our disobedience to our Creator. We have to acknowledge our flaws and change. “We can’t make up our own priorities. We have to stick to Allah’s priorities.” I like the fact that he stresses the importance of fard actions and that they are not a ‘choice’ and the necessity of giving up haram immediately. “You can’t take a slowly slowly approach have to go cold turkey.”

I could continue giving you endless snippets but what you really need to do is; make time and read it yourself. As we all know; experience is the best teacher and “The one piece of wealth Allah gave every human being is time.” If you’re looking for something to keep you on track, or help you back on track then this is the book for you. Inshallah, I have plans for this book, I’ve already persuaded my teenage kids to start reading it. I was looking for a ‘good’ book to give my Muslim high school students when they finish studying with me so inshallah that’s their parting presents sorted. I know it’s not the kind of book I will only read once; inshallah I can see myself going back to it to get inspiration… “At the end of the day, we are in this world alone. We came alone, and we are going to leave alone. And in that solitude, if you don’t find a connection with Allah, then all these fake connections that you and I have, that are not really based on a relationship with Allah, they will all disappear.”

 

Farhat Amin has been involved in Islamic teaching and parenting for over 18 years. She home-schooled her children for a few years and subsequently became the deputy head of the Islamic school they attended. Over the last five years she has worked as an English teacher at her local high school. Eight years ago she started The Muslim Sticker Company, she felt there was a need for positive Islamic parenting resources. She has created colourful stickers, sticker activity books and Eid decorations to help Muslim parents inspire their kids to follow Islam. She regularly posts on her blog https://muslimstickers.com/fblog/. You can buy your copy of Revive your Heart from her website www.muslimstickers.com

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